In this work, the authors have evaluated ten different ionization chambers for the relative dosimetry of kilovoltage x-ray beams in the energy range of 50-280 kVp. Percentage depth doses in water and relative detector response (in Solid Water and in air) were measured for each of the x-ray beams studied using a number of chambers. Measured depth dose data were compared with Monte Carlo calculated depth doses using the EGSnrc Monte Carlo package and the BEAMnrc user code. The accuracy of the phase space files generated by BEAMnrc was verified by calculating the half-value layer and comparing with the measured half-value layer of each x-ray beam. The results indicate that the Advanced Markus, Markus, NACP, and Roos parallel plate ionization chambers were suitable for the measurement of depth dose data in this beam quality range with an uncertainty of less than 3%, including in the regions close to the water surface. While the relative detector response of the Farmer and scanning thimble chambers exhibited a better energy response, they were not suitable for depth dose measurements in the first 5 mm below the water surface with differences of up to 12% in the surface dose measurement for the 50 kVp x-ray beam. These differences were due to dose artifacts generated by the chamber size and the dose gradient. However, at depths greater than 5 mm, the Farmer and thimble scanning chambers gave uncertainties of less than 3% for the depth dose measurements for all beam energies. The PTW PinPoint 31006 chamber was found to give varying dose differences of up to 8% depending on the x-ray beam energy; this was attributed to the steel central electrode. The authors recommend that one of the parallel plate ionization chambers investigated be used to determine depth dose data for kilovoltage x-ray beams in the energy range studied and give correct dose information close to the surface and at depth in the water phantom. © 2009 American Association of Physicists in Medicine.